|Stolorow, R.D. (1997). A Dynamic Systems Approach to the Development of Cognition and Action. : By Esther Thelen and Linda Smith. Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press. 1994. Pp. 376 + xxiii.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:620-622.|
Viewing the full text of this document requires a subscription to PEP Web.
If you are coming in from a university from a registered IP address or secure referral page you should not need to log in. Contact your university librarian in the event of problems.
If you have a personal subscription on your own account or through a Society or Institute please put your username and password in the box below. Any difficulties should be reported to your group administrator.
(1997). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78:620-622
A Dynamic Systems Approach to the Development of Cognition and Action. : By Esther Thelen and Linda Smith. Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press. 1994. Pp. 376 + xxiii.
A new scientific paradigm has been evolving from the investigation of phenomena that have variously been called , non-linear, self-organising, or chaotic systems. With origins in physics, chemistry, and , this new perspective has been applied to the study of biological systems and is employed in the search for common principles underlying the behaviour of such diverse phenomena as chemical reactions, clouds, forests, developing embryos and children. systems theory, as explicated by Thelen & Smith, is centrally concerned with conceptualising the process of developmental change, that is, the generation of ‘emergent order and complexity: how and patterns arise from the cooperation of many individual parts’ (p. xiii). In accounting for the ‘messy, fluid, context-sensitive’ (p. xvi) nature of the developmental process, this framework, as I will attempt to show in my review, is exceptionally well suited to serve as a source of guiding metaphors for contemporary .
A cardinal feature of Thelen & Smith’s systems approach to is that it categorically rejects teleological conceptions of preordained end-states towards which developmental trajectories are presumed to aim. Accordingly,
does not ‘know’ where it is going from the start … There is no end-state other than the end of life itself … is the outcome of -organizing of continuously active living systems (p. 44, my italics).
Also is the idea, prominent in much psychoanalytic developmental theory, that unfolds according to some predetermined schema or epigenetic plan:
Although and appear structured, there are no structures. Although and appear rule-driven, there are no rules. There is complexity. There is a multiple, parallel, and continuously interplay of and , and a system that, by its thermodynamic nature, seeks certain stable solutions. These
Copyright © Institute of , London, 1997
- 620 -
[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]